I spent the morning writing a letter to my sister, for whom I have no address, and was folding it into an envelope when I felt a curious movement in my boxers. The letter didn’t fit the envelope I’d chosen, and I was too preoccupied with refolding the paper to give the sensation my immediate attention.
A thirty-year-old man is accustomed to the vicissitudes below. Arousal swells and ebbs. Times it aches, times it glows. Which is to say only a bolder, second sensation would have caused me to crumple the letter, spring from my chair, and patter-swat my groin, fearing that a rat was clinging to my lap.
The writhing lay deeper. I unbuckled my belt and yanked my pants around my ankles, feeling as if my brain was sweating through my face, and turned toward the lamp in fascinated horror.
On the night of the new moon, I put a motion-triggered camera in the corner of my study, hidden in a bookcase of occult literature and undetectable in the shadows. The room’s only light came from a lamp opposite the door, which Mr. Gormly would be unable to turn off without crossing in front of the camera.
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“No other pumpkins have exploded, although one has a bulbous protuberance I’m keeping my eye on.
Regarding the fingernail I extracted from the broken pumpkin’s shell:
- It was human
- It was not artificial
I had planned to mail you the fingernail, but because of its provenance and resemblance to a seed, I decided instead to plant it in my patch…”
“One would assume a nail driven into my ear would have resulted in brain damage, and yet my thoughts were perfectly clear and even sharpened by the pain.
The nail’s head formed a seal within my ear canal, and since I couldn’t slip so much as a fingernail beneath its edge, I focused on the other nails, beginning with my leg…”
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“Seven rusty nails scraped themselves out of my hallway’s brick wall and drove themselves into my body.
The nails were two inches long and—judging by their hand-forged appearance—had probably been in the wall for at least fifty years. I had passed them countless times without noticing their existence, and I would have disregarded them again if not for the sound, like ballpoint pens scribbling on a sidewalk, of all seven nails scrabbling out of their holes.
The hallway was dark. I leaned toward the wall and squinted at one of the nails as it vibrated outward. Fascination overruled concern…”
A meaningful stain appeared on my floor. It is a moving stain, approximately one foot wide, on the hardwood planks beside my study’s upholstered reading chair.
The stain is not a shadow; I have proven this with a flashlight and several different lamps. Nor is it a visual defect or hallucination, because I was able to photograph the stain and show it to the manager of the local bookstore, a man of good sense who verified the stain’s existence in the photo.
Its color is that of burnt motor oil. The stain changes shape whenever I look away, and yet despite its apparent fluidity, it is dry to the touch and seemingly infused into the woodgrain…
I cried continuously for thirteen hours. The tears came not in a deluge, like a Biblical emotion, but rather as a dribble after I inhaled a small whorl of levitating dust.
The dust was spiraling softly in the corner of my pantry, lighted by a sunbeam coming from the kitchen, and when I leaned forward to examine it more closely, I involuntarily sniffed it into my nose.
The dust smelled of coconut. My eyes filled with tears. Allergens, I thought, and then I wiped my cheeks and continued with my morning, assuming the flow would cease once the irritation lessened.
“My home is teeming with hundreds of house centipedes. Naturally, I am delighted.
Scutigera coleoptrata is a common and beneficial insectivore that feeds on spiders, bed bugs, termites, cockroaches, silverfish, and ants. More importantly, their antennae serve as lightning rods for negative psychic energy.
A single house centipede in close proximity can neutralize the charge of a stressful thought… even one sizzling in the depths of the subconscious. Anecdotal evidence points to infestations significantly reducing anxiety, hypertension, familial discord, and—in one obscure case—a migraine that had tortured a schoolteacher for two full semesters…”
Prior to last week, I had never been in my kitchen at 4:39 A.M., when an unidentified couple daily appears for five minutes, interacts, and disappears.
I normally wake at 5 A.M., eat a banana mashed with cinnamon, and take my coffee carafe from the kitchen into the study. Last week, however, I began to wake at 4:30 A.M. and to arrive in the kitchen earlier than usual.
On the first such morning, I lifted my carafe and turned toward the sink. A middle-aged woman leaned against the counter. I spasmed in surprise, sloshing coffee onto the wall and overturning the mortar and pestle I’d used for my banana.
The woman noticed none of this and calmly smoked a cigarette. She stood barefoot in a nightgown, wearing curlers in her hair and cat’s eye glasses. She held a three-inch paring knife softly at her hip…
The camera I received on my tenth Christmas was tagged “From Mom” but I knew my father had bought it. My mother paid no attention when I tore open the wrapping. Instead she sat at the window, with the tree’s little bulbs lighting up her cheek, convinced the falling snow was falling from the otherworld.
I spent the morning photographing icicles, fire, broken trees, and the other presents I had gotten.
Late that night, my mother woke me in bed and spoke to me for the first time in twenty-four hours. Her eyes were oddly blue, like miniature jellyfish, and the rest of her was darker than the night should have made her.
She told me ghosts were colors on the film between worlds…